While other restaurants have been forced to close, take days off and change business models. Verde seems at home, offering a more intimate relationship with its customers; serious customers? I question my use of the word here, customer. No, I’m not breaking a 4th wall, I really don’t feel comfortable calling myself or you my readers a client, by going to Verde. Let’s put a pin in there and come back to it in a paragraph or two. (Maybe I’m breaking the 4th wall here.)
Every day, you can find Chef Connor, whipping up a freshly ground masa tortilla, to serve his Carnitas tacos. Or cook a homemade hot sauce that alone could be bottled and sold for a million dollars in my opinion. The a-maze thing to consider here, (to be nerdy) a truly gluten-free, locally sourced dining experience and cuisine is seductive salsa dancing right here in Bettendorf. While everyone is saving time and money, Verde has found her calling by going back to “cooking” basics instead of unwrapping and cutting up plastic bags.
Carnitas Tacos food served with homemade hot sauce. Don’t ask for Tabasco or Cholula, or you’ll be escorted to the door by a beefy guy named Big Mike. I laugh. Or maybe not. Trust me. If you consider that first bite of amazing food a sexual experience, it wouldn’t be a good deal for a first kiss. This plate looks more like a former Russian gymnast named Katarina, whom you met in Mexico City while fleeing the cartel and she threw a Scorpion, two eggo waffles and a bottle of tequila under the covers. God I miss my time in the Peace Corp. But either way, these tacos are made of dreams come true and probably ingredients you’d find in a kitchen like Verde.
Cauliflower in the style of elote. Charred cauliflower with a sauce made with cauliflower, chipotle and caramelized whey, fermented mole salt, cotja and herbs. If you asked me 25 years ago if I’d be happy to sit down for a plate of cauliflower, I’d get my mouth smacked by my parents for my answer to you. Yet that is what this plate did to me. Hit me in the mouth. I cannot describe in words how amazing this dish tastes. So I’m just gonna stare at you for the next 30 seconds in disbelief. Set your timer now.
30 seconds have passed. Let’s get back to it. When you go, order this. Do it for me. As I sit and listen to this man, I can feel the emotion in his voice. Like many of us, Chief Connor has had a hard time. He found his way out of the darkness with the click of an instant light bulb. Sitting in his R&D kitchen, working that dish. Cauliflower in the style of elot, it brought him back and gave him purpose and joy. Is this dish his magnum opus? Guess we’ll all have to wait and see what awaits us next.
Back from our 4th wall break. As I sit at the bar here sipping a specially crafted house cocktail from the wonderful Bri, Connor’s wife. I ask him how he feels knowing that at least 20 cars passed us out the window on State St., in the last 5 paragraphs, going to Micky Ds or Taco Hell to buy a 1.29 burger or a Taco with ground beef. “I’m ok with that. I want people to come here for an experience, not for a meal. That’s where we end this. If other restaurants are cavemen drawing on the walls after bludgeoning unsuspecting seals, Chef Connor and his team at Verde paint the Sistine Chapel and carefully concoct morsels of beauty for your palate. You’re not customers for him, you’re food tourists there to admire his creations. crafts on a plate.
Verde prides itself on a more intimate seating style. The call for reservations is appreciated. Worried about your paperback? It’s affordable and worth every penny of your allowance.
My score of 52 restaurants for Verde. 9.3 out of 10
Your friend in food,